Tara Rosling plays a major part in the latest season of 'Star Trek: Discovery'
Tara Rosling wasn’t too into "Star Trek" for much of her life. She knew about the show and how significant the series was, but it wasn’t something she watched avidly.
That was until the now 51-year-old actress landed a major role in the franchise’s latest series, "Star Trek: Discovery."
Now, Rosling tunes in to each episode with her husband Patrick and daughter Eliana, to watch “through her fingers” with gritted teeth.
"It's terrifying watching yourself, right? And you don't know how cringeworthy you're going to be,” Rosling jokes in an interview with The Lake Report.
“I have to say for the most part, I've been pleasantly surprised. I haven't sucked, by my own barometer,” she laughs.
Rosling first debuted the out-of-this-world role in the show’s third season, but just for one episode. She plays a Vulcan named T’Rina, who is the president of the Vulcan planet Ni’Var.
She said it was a complete surprise she was called back for such a big part in Season 4, which sees her in nine episodes.
She was excited to get the role, but said it was a bit of a “wild process.”
"When I got the audition, it wasn't clear what I was auditioning for,” she said.
“There was no species attached and I think it was actually an admiral. So I didn't know it was the president of Ni'Var."
Shortly after that she was “pinned” for the role with several other actors. Strangely to her, she was called in for a prosthetic fitting before actually getting the gig, but before she arrived, she learned she had landed the part.
“When I got the script I was super excited and a little bit terrified,” she said, adding she was “gobsmacked” at how substantial her part was.
“Certainly when I stepped onto set that was quite an experience, because it's a legendary show, the cast is so well known, they have three cameras rolling at all times, so it was a bit intimidating. But the whole thing was very, very exciting.”
Fast-forward to Season 4 and she was once again unaware she was being called back — let alone for a major role.
Because Rosling is a day actor and not a contracted core cast member, she kept getting surprised by being called back.
“They don't commit to me until the week before we shoot really,” she said.
“It was like my agent calls and says, 'Oh, they have you pinned for episode 402,’ meaning they'd like to put you on hold, but they're not committing to anything. And then so the week before he's like, 'OK, they've booked you. These are your dates.’”
Rosling said it’s her biggest role for film and TV so far in her career. She has also done extensive theatre work and several indie movies.
“It's crazy. They just posted a poster for Paramount, because Paramount is now streaming the show, and T'rina made the poster. So it's very exciting. It's a big deal, especially when you're a 50-year-old lady living in Niagara-on-the-Lake.”
One fun part of playing the role is seeing how “smitten” a lot of fans are with the "Star Trek" universe. When she tells people about it, they tend to go wild.
She recalls telling people about her previous role in a series called "Impulse," where she had a regular role in the second season.
“When I tell people about it, they'd be like, 'Oh, yeah, that's cool.' And then when I tell them I had one episode of 'Star Trek,' they lost their minds. It was like, 'Oh my God.' I just found that fascinating and that's 'Star Trek' culture, right? Some people are so tremendously excited by anything to do with 'Star Trek.' ”
Most of the series is filmed in Toronto, so Rosling commutes. It’s typically a long day of shooting for her, with about three hours of makeup involved to make her look like the pointy-eared Vulcan president.
“The site is all built in a studio called Pinewood. It's just up Commissioners Street in Toronto, and then the stuff we shot in Ni'Var — like at one point we were shooting on my planet — they built an AR wall in Brampton. And that's used a lot in the end of this particular season as well.”
She said seeing the augmented reality wall was “mind blowing.”
It’s basically an active projector instead of a blue or green screen, which is linked to the cameras to change as they move. The actors can also see some of the projection.
“I don't know how it works, really, but it's a whole bunch of screens that are put together in kind of a half circle and they feed imagery to a projector but it works with the camera. As the camera moves, the image moves on the wall. It's like this wraparound imagery that moves with the actors with the camera. So you don't have to pretend that you're seeing something.”
She said the whole experience has been “great fun.”
“The thing that stands out the most is how incredibly generous the entire cast are and were,” she said.
“It's really tricky shooting in COVID," she said, adding the logistics of having only one makeup team allowed in at once, etc., made things take longer.
"The hours are sometimes long. Like sometimes we shot 16 to 17 hour days because there's three hours of prosthetics for me. And if you can't socialize, then you know, that's a lot of time sitting in a corner by yourself,” she said.
“But because of the attitude of everybody involved, it was doable, and often pleasurable.”
All in all, she’s grateful to have the role.
“It was a huge gift that fell out of the sky considering theatre had come to a grinding halt and I had no idea that they wanted to bring her back. I'm very grateful.”
She said she’s also happy with her character, script-wise.
“It's quite beautiful how they've woven T'rina into the final episodes of the season. I was really super chuffed about how they used her.”
You can watch Rosling in "Star Trek: Discovery" on Crave in Canada, or Paramount+/CBS All Access in the United States.